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Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Screening (PDQ®)

Patient Version

Risks of Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Screening

Screening tests have risks.

Decisions about screening tests can be difficult. Not all screening tests are helpful and most have risks. Before having any screening test, you may want to discuss the test with your doctor. It is important to know the risks of the test and whether it has been proven to reduce the risk of dying from cancer.

The risks of stomach cancer screening include the following:

Finding stomach cancer may not improve health or help you live longer.

Screening may not improve your health or help you live longer if you have advanced stomach cancer.

Some cancers never cause symptoms or become life-threatening, but if found by a screening test, the cancer may be treated. It is not known if treatment of these cancers would help you live longer than if no treatment were given, and treatments for cancer may have serious side effects.

False-negative test results can occur.

Screening test results may appear to be normal even though stomach cancer is present. A person who receives a false-negative result (one that shows there is no cancer when there really is) may delay seeking medical care even if there are symptoms.

False-positive test results can occur.

Screening test results may appear to be abnormal even though no cancer is present. A false-positive test result (one that shows there is cancer when there really isn't) can cause anxiety and is usually followed by more tests and procedures which also have risks.

Side effects may be caused by the screening test itself.

Upper endoscopy may cause the following rare, but serious, side effects:

  • Updated: August 22, 2013